Innes National Park

My last activation for Saturday, 19th October, was the Innes National Park, which is located on the southern tip of the Yorke Peninsula, about 295 km from Adelaide.

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Innes National Park comprises 9,415 hectares of natural coastal vegetation, and represents one of only a few pockets of significant vegetation on the Yorke Peninsula.  As such it is a very important National Park for biodiversity.

The Narungga aboriginal people have lived on the Yorke Peninsula for thousands of years.  They were made of of four clan, the Kurnara in the north of the peninsula, Windera in the east, Wari in the west, and Dilpa in the south.  In 1847, European colonisation of the Innes area commenced, with land occupied for sheep grazing near Cape Spencer.  Small scale cropping increasingly occurred throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Innes National Park takes its name from William Innes, who discovered commercial quantities of gypsum in the area during the early 1900’s.  In 1913, he established the mioning township of Inneston, where gypsum was produced up until 1930.  Inneston had a population of about 200 people during its boom phase.  Despite being isolted, the township of Inneston was completely self sufficient, having its own school, post office, bakery, general store, and tennis court.

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About 333 native plants have been recorded in the park.  Of these, 115 are of conservation significance.  Innes NP is home to about 140 species of birds, with many of these being of conservation significance.  They include the shy Western Whipbird, and the Malleefowl.  Western Grey kangaroos and emus roam freely in the park, as we found out.  The speed limit throughout the park is generally 40 kph for good reason, as the road is often dotted by kangaroos and emus.  A wide variety of reptiles also call the park home, including the deadly Brown snake, sleepy lizards (of which we saw numerous), and Eastern Bearded Dragons.  Southern Right whales pass along the coast from May to September, whilst dolphins are also regular visitors to the park’s waters.

There are a large number of shipwrecks on the ocean floor off the coast of the Yorke Peninsula and Innes National Park.  In fact, the remains of about 40 ship wrecks can be found.  Many of these fell victim to the unpredictable storms that frequent the area.  There were certainly no storms on the peninsula today.  The temperature was about 35 deg c.

Marija and I drove into the park via the seaside town of Marion Bay.  Marion Bay has a small population of approximately 130 people.  This swells to 500-900 during holiday periods.  We stopped at Stenhouse Bay and decided to set up the radio gear here.  There was a terrific view of the Bay, and more importantly there was a big timber shelter that looked very inviting, to shelter us from the hot afternoon sun.

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The township of Stenhouse Bay is at the western tip of Yorke Peninsula, and was named after Andrew Stenhouse, who in the 1920s had a business called the Permascite Manufacturing Company.  Stenhouse helped commence the gypsum industry in this location.  The Waratah Gypsum Company had works here for the quarrying and exporting of rock gypsum.  Gypsum after being washed, roasted and ground, was used in the manufacturing of plaster of paris and cement.   The quality of the gypsum in this area was exceptionally high class and most of Australia’s needs were supplied from here.  The Waratah Gypsum Company closed its works and the town was sold to the South Australian Government which demolished the town except for the few houses required for the rangers of the National Parks and Wildlife Organization who look after Innes National Park.

Our operating spot overlooked the Bay and the Stenhouse Bay jetty which was constructed to enable ships to berth and load the bagged gypsum.

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It was very difficult to find a clear frequency on 40m as the band was very busy with JOTA stations.  Unfortunately a few times I was forced to move, because JOTA stations came up on my frequency and started calling CQ.  Clearly they couldn’t hear my little QRP signal.  But I did find 7.085 clear and I put out a call, to be greeted by regular Park Hunter Colin VK3UBY, with his normal terrificly strong 5/9 plus signal.  I then spoke with Sandra VK3LSC, Colin’s wife, and this was followed by a chat with Maitland VK5AO.  Another dedicated Hunter to call in was John VK5BJE with a great 5/9 signal.  I managed one Park to Park contact and that was with Larry VK5LY who was portable in the Mokota Conservation Park in the mid north of S.A. (5/9 exchanged both ways)

After an hour of operating, Marija and I decided to pack up.  There was a lot to see in the park, and we still had to drive back to Corny Point, where we had plans to go out for tea at the Howling Dog Tavern.  I was relatively happy with 17 QSO’s in the logbook from VK3 & VK5.

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The following stations were worked:-

Colin VK3UBY; Sandra VK3LSC; Maitland VK5AO; John VK5BJE; Andy VK5AKH; David VK5KC; David VK5BAR; Ian VK5CZ; Mark VK5QI; Brian VK5FMID; Larry VK5LY/p (Park to Park); Peter VK3PF; Bill VK5MBD; Tim VK5AV; Robin VK5TN; Col VK5HCF; & Bsil VK5BK.

I have placed some video on You Tube of the activation…..

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